Six years after-the-fact, Metal Mind Productions re-releases Blaze Bayley's 2007 double concert album, "Alive in Poland". Captured at the 2007 Metalmania Festival in Katowice, Poland with the debut lineup of the BLAZE BAYLEY band, faithful Bayley supporters were served up a round robin indulgence.
Despite a tumultuous time in the ex-IRON MAIDEN and WOLFSBANE singer's career (including the disintegration of his previous BLAZE unit), "Alive in Poland" is a cool though spotty live retrospective of Bayley's career. Included amongst his solo cuts on the sixteen-song set list are a heaping handful of Bayley-era MAIDEN tracks including "Virus" from "Best of the Beast", never performed by MAIDEN, but proven to crop up at Bayley's shows.
While there's a decided bitterness hovering over Blaze Bayley circa 2007 in which he grumbles with ignited F-bombs against becoming a record label write-off (no doubt the scorn handed him by IRON MAIDEN fans was also lying dormant in his mind at this point), by-and-large, "Alive in Poland" is enjoyable. Certainly those in attendance at the Metalmania Festival were entertained, judging by their enthusiastic reception. It's no wonder Metal Mind has re-released "Alive in Poland" while Bayley sets out to revamp his career with a proposed best-of anthology, a classical-themed EP and a brand new BLAZE BAYLEY band studio album.
The BB band lineup at the time of this show included Rich Newport and Nick Bermudez (guitars), David Bermudez (bass) and Rico Banderra (drums). While the sound capture is occasionally muddy and the band betrays occasional mistimes, "Alive in Poland" should still satiate Bayley's fans and power metal freaks at-large.
Knowing that the core vibe of Bayley's solo work heralds SAXON and the NWOBHM, songs such as "Speed of Light", "Alive", "Tough as Steel", "Ten Seconds", "Kill and Destroy" and "Born as a Stranger" rip and tear like metalhead pleasure pills. As for the six IRON MAIDEN covers in the set, "Man On the Edge", "Sign of the Cross" and "Virus" are the best, while "Two Worlds Collide" and "Futureal" are a bit lacking despite some wicked shred soloing. It's not just that the tunes are devoid of Steve Harris' thrumming bass gallops and Nicko McBrain's polished drives and rolls; there's too much sloppiness undermining from top-to-bottom, not that anyone in the audience seems to mind. The crowd whoa-ohs along with Blaze on "Two Worlds Collide", and they egg him on through the morose intro to "Look for the Truth". When Blaze coaxes them to call back on the latter song, you just know he's enjoying a private "Fear of the Dark" moment. Kudos, at least, to the BB band for mostly pulling off the nine-minute sojourn of "Sign of the Cross" with raw convincingness.
Longtime fans will enjoy the chunky take on "Tenth Dimension", which is played on the edge despite some random roughness in Bayley's pipes. As we've come to learn since this recording, Blaze has soldiered through health issues on top of personal trials. The wear and fatigue in his voice is detectable all throughout this show, but give the guy credit for standing tall when he's had everything go against him ever since IRON MAIDEN's "The X Factor" was released.
While this lineup of the BLAZE BAYLEY band was short-lived, "Alive in Poland" is a mostly solid outing with pockets of shortfalls. Never question Blaze Bayley's heart, however. If anyone carries the banner for metal in his own modest way, it's this guy.